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Kattari - The Tamil Weapon

on Thursday, 26 February 2015. Posted in Martial Arts

Kattari - The Tamil Weapon

The kattari or suwaiya (Tamil: kattari, Devanagari: katara, Panjabi: kataar) is a type of push dagger from India. It is characterised by its H-shaped horizontal hand grip, which results in the blade of the sword sitting above the user’s knuckles.

Unique to South Asia, it is the most famous and characteristic of Indian daggers. Ceremonial katara were also used in worship. The katara originated in Tamil Nadu where its Dravidian name was kattari before being altered to katara in the north. The earliest forms occur in the medieval Deccan kingdom of Vijayanagara.

This particular piece (in the image) is in the style of a Srirangan katar with its prominent knuckle guard.

The hilt, the crested knuckle guard, double ball grips and double-edged blade (both sides) are entirely covered with silver inlay of the most exquisite fineness in scrolling picca mala (jasmine creeper) form with the creepers being arranged in such a way as to form a stylized kirtimukha mask at the top of the blade, and on the top of the knuckle grad they form a pair of adorsed yalis. 

The nuts in the sides of the hilt used to secure the double grips have been inlaid with both silver and gold. The silver and gold damascening is in keeping with the goldwork shown on a Tanjore-style katar in New York’s Metropolitan Museum, and the silver inlaid picca mala scroll-work on the knuckle guard of a Srirangan katar that was offered at Bonhams, in its ‘The Jacques Desenfans Collection’ April 10, 2008.

The scabbard of the Bonhams example was more detailed than the example here but the actual blade and hilt of this example is far superior. The Bonhams example sold for £20,400. The broad knuckle guard terminates in a silver-inlaid yali-head finial to match the adorsed yalis worked into the top of the knuckle guard. 

 

Source: Michael Backman Ltd